NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Firebrand freshman Sen. Ted Cruz — a potential 2016 presidential candidate — blasted the Washington establishment in its own backyard during his address to activists gathered at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
"If you want to lose elections, stand for nothing," he implored.
Cruz has butted heads with many of his fellow Republicans in the nation's capital, but in his speech today, Cruz unapologetically painted Washington as corrupt and railed against the Obama administration.
As Cruz told it, the nation must create more energy sector jobs, overturn the Dodd-Frank law that placed stricter regulations on Wall Street and repeal "every single word of Obamacare," the president's signature health care reform law.
"We need to eliminate corporate welfare and crony capitalism," Cruz said. "We need to end the corruption."
Cruz also called for term limiting federal lawmakers and banning former members of Congress becoming lobbyists — for life.
Additionally, he advocated for the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service and the income tax, which would be replaced with a "simple flat tax."
He urged his party to follow the lead of President Ronald Reagan and former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas to inspire young people to join the conservative movement.
In contrast, he chided former GOP presidential nominees John McCain, Mitt Romney and Bob Dole as "good men" who didn't adequately stand by conservative principles.
"We will bring back morning in America," Cruz said.
Cruz, who won his Senate seat in 2012 after besting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a heated Republican primary, was the first high-profile speaker to deliver an address at the three-day CPAC event. (Dewhurst is not featured at the conference, and he came in second this week in the race for the GOP nomination for his own seat. He's headed for a May runoff.)
Last year, Cruz gained notoriety for staging a 21-hour talk-a-thon against Obamacare on the Senate floor. And while Cruz often focused on domestic issues, the senator from one of the United States' top energy producers took a swipe at Russian President Vladimir Putin as a "petro-tyrant."